Yet time and again people were eager to point us in the right direction. Over and over we were met with friendly responses and helpful guidance that got us exactly where we needed to be. It left me asking myself why you don't meet that sort of friendliness in all large American cities.
I wondered this:
Does living in a city whose motto is: Let brotherly love endure intrinsically make the people who live there friendlier, more full of brotherly love for their neighbor or the stranger lost on the street?
If that is the standard that living in the community of Philadelphia sets for its people then I could assume, based on my experience, that yes, for many of the residents demonstrating brotherly love through their day to day interactions is the norm.
Letting brotherly love endure is more than just the motto of a city. It is the standard that we as Christians, people of Christ, are called to live by in our daily lives too. Too often I am guilty of not living up to this standard of my faith. Like the people of Philadelphia who demonstrated brotherly love to me, we also have a biblical example of a man who left the legacy of enduring love of others for us to follow.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans 1:8-12 says this:
First, I thank my God through Christ Jesus for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.
First, he was thankful for them. He had heard reports of their faith all over the world. He was thankful for their testimonies, for their lives, for their gifts that were spreading the gospel.
Are we thankful for each other's testimonies? For the work that God has done and is doing in each of our lives? Do we respect the differences in one another and how those differences work together to complete the body?
Beth Moore says, "We tend to think a sense of community comes from other's accepting us, Paul's sense of community comes from his acceptance of other's."
I know a key to fully accepting others in my life is to practice the art of thanksgiving for them and for the specific ways they bless my life. In this we find the greatest joy in relationships and life is fullest when we are thankful for one another.
As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Ann Voskamp
Some of us are prone to isolation. If you are one of those you need to know there are people who love you, who desire to spend time with you and they pray for you. You might have to take those first few steps out of isolation and into fellowship.
Brotherly love goes both ways, knowing you are accepted and accepting others. Then remembering one another in prayer at all times is where the endurance of that love lasts and where joy goes deep.
Third, Paul's desire for fellowship was so he could give and receive encouragement.
I am encouraged when a friend says she is thankful for me. I am encouraged by hearing how God is working in the lives of others. Your faith encourages me and I hope my faith encourages you. When we pray for one another or just know that we are being remembered in prayer there is encouragement.
Mutual encouragement thrives in fellowship where our testimonies, our lives and our gifts edify one another. The joy of acceptance takes root when, despite our imperfections or the location of our wanderings, somebody is willing to point us in the right direction, to pray for, and love us right where we are.
Let's let the motto of Let brotherly love endure be the standard that we live by following Paul's example to the Romans.